Tag Archives: Storage

Mac OS X Server Xsan

Yosemite Server: Configure Clients In Xsan 4 Environments

Yosemite brings Xsan 4, which brings a new way to add clients to an Xsan. Xsan Admin is gone. From now on, instead of scanning the network using Xsan Admin. we’ll be adding clients using a Configuration Profile. This is actually a much more similar process to adding Xsan clients to a StorNext environment than it is to adding clients to Metadata Controllers running Xsan 3 and below. But instead of making a fsnameservers file, we’re plugging that information into a profile, which will do that work on the client on our behalf. To make the Xsan configuration profile, we’re going to use Profile Manager.

To get started, open the Profile Manager web interface and click on a device or device group (note, these are scoped to systems so cannot be used with users and user groups). Then click on the Settings tab for the object you’re configuring Xsan for.

Screen Shot 2014-10-29 at 11.37.14 AM

Click Edit for the profile listed (Settings for <objectname>) and scroll down until you see the entry for Xsan.

Screen Shot 2014-10-29 at 11.37.32 AM

From the Xsan screen, click Configure.

Screen Shot 2014-10-29 at 11.37.41 AM

This next screen should look a little similar, in terms of the information you’ve plugged into the Xsan 4 setup screen. Simply enter the name of the Xsan in the Xsan Name field, the IP address or host names of your metadata controllers in the File System Name Servers field and the Authentication Secret from the Xsan screen in the Server app into the Authentication Secret field. Click OK to close the dialog.

Screen Shot 2014-10-29 at 11.38.29 AM

Click Save to save your changes. Then you’ll see the Download button become clickable.

Screen Shot 2014-10-29 at 11.44.15 AM

The profile will download to your ~/Downloads directory as Settings_for_<OBJECTNAME>.mobileconfig. So this was called test and will result in a name of Settings_for_test.mobileconfig. That profile will automatically attempt to install. If this is an MDC where you’re just using Profile Manager to bake a quick profile, or if you don’t actually want to install the profile yet, click Cancel.

Screen Shot 2014-10-29 at 11.43.43 AM

If you haven’t worked with profiles that much, note that when you click Show Profile, it will show you what is in the profile and what the profile can do.

Screen Shot 2014-10-29 at 11.43.59 AM

Simply open this file on each client (once you test it of course) and once installed, they’ll automatically configure to join your Xsan. If you don’t have a Profile Manager server, you can customize this file for your environment (YMMV): Settings_for_test.mobileconfig

Windows Server

Configure Volume Shadow Copy on Windows Server

Working with Shadow Copy requires elevated privileges. I usually access Shadow Copy through vssuirun. This prompts for elevating privileges. Once open, use the Settings pane to select the volume you’d like to schedule backups to. Then choose how much space shadow copies can use. Click on the Schedule button to configure how frequently backups run. I usually try to time these things for when the server isn’t slammed. Otherwise you might run into issues.

By default, Shadow Copy keeps 64 versions of each file. Running snapshots every hour. You can restore easily, by selecting a volume, although volume-based restores are not supported on system derives. Restores can be done using vssuirun and then using the Revert Now… button.

The quicker way to do all this is to use the vssadmin command, which has a lot more options. Run vssadmin along with the list verb to see a list of different types of objects. For example, to see a list of the storage used with Shadow Copy, use the vssadmin command, with the list verb and then the shadowstorage noun:

vssadmin list shadow storage

You’ll then see the storage for each volume, along with the space used, allocated and max for each. Run vssadmin followed by the list verb then shadows to see your shadow copy sets:

vssadmin list shadows

Each shadow copy set is displayed along with a generated ID. Creation times, volume information, tarot location, name of server and the type (e.g. client accessible) are all displayed. You can also use the add verb with these same options, along with a variety of switches for each. To add storage /for the a drive (G) on a drive (H) and give it a maxsize (64GB) use the following:

vssadmin add shadowstorage /for=g: /on=H /maxsize=64GB

Once you’ve added Shadow Copy Storage for a volume, you can then run a manual shadow copy on an enabled volume using the create verb, along with the shadow noun and then the /for: option, specifying the volume:

vssadmin create shadow /for=g:

To revert to a shadow copy, and this is dangerous as you might not want to revert so be careful here, use the revert verb along with shadow (yes, it’s singular as there’s only one) and then the /shadow option followed by the GUID of the copy to revert to:

vssadmin revert shadow /shadow=(AAAAAAAA-BBBB-11111-2222-CCCCCCCC)

To delete a shadow copy, use the delete verb, along with the shadows noun (yes, that’s randomly plural) and then the /shadow option following by the GUID of the shadow copy to delete (yes, I made that GUID up):

vssadmin delete shadows /shadow=(AAAAAAAA-BBBB-11111-2222-CCCCCCCC)

Alliteratively, use favorite option for this verb /oldest which just tosses the oldest backup (less typing, I’m lazy):

vssadmin delete shadows /for=g: /oldest

This is interactive as well, so you’ll have to hit y to confirm. Finally, when disabling all shadow copies (holy shiznit batman, we’re out of space big time) use the delete verb but this time followed by the drive letter to clear copies for:

vssadmin delete shadowstorage /for:g:

iPhone

iPad + Box.net = Win

Box.net is a cloud-based file sharing service that I used extensively in my last book. Similar to dropbox.com, Box.net allowed my publishers and I to automate our workflow with regard to the publishing process, but more importantly, I was actually able to do much of the review and exchange of files from the iPad, which was really nice given that the book was on iOS. I’ve been working with a few companies over the past few weeks on coming up with various strategies for cloud interoperability, and Box.net has come up a few times in this regard. Looks like I’m not the only one!

Business

EMC + Isilon = ?

EMC is buying Isilon for $2.25 billion. They want the video market, which seems to just be growing and growing. EMC stock dipped a little on the news, which is not surprising because Isilon isn’t worth what EMC is paying for it. What does this mean for the video market? More uncertainty. EMC has been an acquisition marathon runner since 2002, buying up Avamar, Documentum, Epoch, McData, Iomega, Archer, Greenplum, Bus-Tech, Kashya, Dantz, Mozy, Data Domain and even VMware (not to mention a bunch of other companies).

So what does this mean for Isilon’s product line moving forward. If you look at how the acquisition of Dantz and Iomega sparked the Insignia line at EMC and how profits from those lines jumped well over 60% it isn’t hard to think that Isilon will almost instantly become more profitable. Of course, the Mac Retrospect software was sold off and now has an uncertain future… One would like to think that the combination of EMC’s wide variety of technologies and Isilon will result in even more environments that Isilon can play and even more technical advances to the product line. But I guess we’ll see what happens there…

Xsan

Xsan TCO

I recently read an article in CIO magazine about the cost per gig per month. In the article they quoted Google at about 6 cents per gig per month.  I use Amazon for a few projects, which runs at about 12 cents per gig per month.   Including labor and hardware I decided to look at about what it would cost per gigabyte per month for Xsan storage.  Averaging out 30 installs that we did over the past year turned out a total of about 7.2 cents per gig per month, as opposed to around $2.00 per gig per month which is pretty average for many SAN solutions.  Now, Xsan does have its drawbacks compared to a lot of other truly enterprise-class storage solutions (no snapshots, no LUN redundancy, etc), but provided you build it properly, use it for the purposes that it is actually intended and therefore keep labor costs down over a 3 year cycle you can get similar TCO numbers to what you might end up paying for other solutions.  

Having said this, the larger Xsans typically require more infrastructure and features, which can lead to around double the cost per month per gig.  For example, introducing Cloverleaf or Vmirror into the equation will typically require us to double up storage costs and require bigger and better switches. 

I will not say that a cloud storage service such as Google or Amazon doesn’t have its place.  It absolutely does: offline storage, web storage, if you have an existing Xsan and need to archive but can’t spring for the tape drive, Final Cut Server archival (see my previous post on using that) if you travel a lot (like me), etc.  But before you jump on the Storage as a Service bandwagon run the numbers very carefully.  If it makes sense on a per-use basis then absolutely go for it, but try and factor everything in the process (especially the data access speed over your WAN pipe and additional load that will be placed on said pipe).

Windows Server

iSCSI Target Creation

The iSCSI Initiator that we use for connecting Windows to iSCSI targets has a friend.  It’s called Microsoft Windows Storage Server, which you can use to turn a DAS RAID in a Windows box into a LUN for iSCSI.  Good stuff.  Check out the data sheet here:

download.microsoft.com/download/d/8/4/ d84b1c50-e0bb-45ba-b2f4-356f4f456a88/WUDSS%20Datasheet_Final.doc

Now that’s not to say they’re the only game in town.  iSCSI Target is also a feature of OpenSolaris:

http://opensolaris.org/os/project/iscsitgt/

And there’s a nifty little Open Source Project called iSCSI Enterprise Target:

http://sourceforge.net/projects/iscsitarget/?abmode=1

Mac OS X

Solid State Storage for the Masses

I originally posted this at http://www.318.com/TechJournal

The new MacBook Air was introduced at MacWorld with the option for a 64GB Solid-State hard drive. Toshiba is also now offering Solid-State drives in sizes that are 32GB, 64GB and 128GB. The drives still seem to be lagging in adoption due to high costs, but they offer more durability, faster boot times and lower power requirements which should all lead to higher adoption over the next two years.

Toshiba will also begin making Solid-state SATA drives in May that can be used in desktop systems.

Mac OS X Windows XP

Using Trash for Storage

I’m not sure why this keeps coming up, but you don’t want to use your trash (whether for Entourage, Outlook, Mac OS X or the Recycle Bin in Windows) as a place to store files, emails or anything else you’d be bummed out about loosing.  Keep in mind that trash can be taken away at any given moment…

Xsan

Primordial Storage

Primordial storage refers to unallocated storage capacity on a storage device. Storage capacity can be allocated from primordial pools to create storage pools. This means that primordial pools are disk/device sources for allocation of storage pools.  In Xsan primordial pools aren’t used but there is often unused capacity in the form of LUNs that are referred to as primordial at time.  Especially on a Promise RAID where you might have certain LUNs that are smaller than the potential size of others and therefore might end up with disks left over which can be mapped and used as near-line storage later.  This term, primordial, can be used to refer to those.

Articles and Books Xsan

Article on EMC Channel Manager Retiring

Another article on EMC I was quoted in:

http://www.crn.com/storage/197006487?pgno=2